As you rack your brain during another dreaded chemistry quiz, you observe a student sitting diagonally from you with a confident grin. The student slides a piece of paper from under their quiz sheet revealing – surprise! – the answers to the quiz.
The semester is winding down, but before we exit the classroom for summer jobs, internships or the real world, we must start seriously thinking about grades.
Final exams and papers can make the difference between an A and a D, especially in that class where the teacher never lets anyone talk and the average grade on the first exam was a C-. Solutions are imperative to avoid flunking. Cramming and all night study sessions aren’t healthy, but they will do.
A well-devised “answer sharing” system with a friend/class genius might appear easier than actually studying, but before you make your own “cheat sheet,” take a minute to ponder the weight of your actions.
Cheating is a big problem in our classrooms. Most of us have witnessed it. A lot of us have done it. So why is it hardly ever talked about?
Teachers might stress before an exam that Temple has “stern policies regarding cheating,” but real, open discussion is minimal. In fact, the potential repercussions of cheating – ranging from failure of a test to expulsion – seem unrealistic to most students.
Cheating has two parts: plagiarism and academic cheating. In the undergraduate bulletin, plagiarism is defined as “the unacknowledged use of another person’s labor, another person’s ideas, another person’s words, another person’s assistance.”
Academic cheating is “the thwarting or breaking of the general rules of academic work or the specific rules of the individual courses,” and includes “falsifying data; submitting, without the instructor’s approval, work in one course which was done for another; helping others to plagiarize or cheat from one’s own or another’s work; or actually doing the work of another person.”
Why do students cheat? Pressure. Pressure from parents, counselors, even themselves, to perform at standards that are, at times, unattainable. For some students, cheating is seen as the only viable alternative.
And cheating is getting easier. There are Web sites where one can get other student’s papers for free or a low price. All they have to do is change the name at the top of the page. In large classrooms, the chances of getting caught appear slim.
Most students recognize the inequity that cheating creates, but bigger issues are present. Take, for example, the inequity between teachers and students. Few teachers are willing to put themselves on the same level as their students. They view the experience less as a learning process and more as a regurgitation of facts.
These are the professors that lecture monotonously, never connecting with the student. Like the student who is cheating, they don’t know any better and it is this precise environment that facilitates cheating.
Teachers must be firm and not look away when a student is caught cheating. They should also create a classroom environment where cheating is not necessary, with more interactive projects, oral exams or open book tests.
Cheating is largely ignored because people think “it’s only a test.” It is not only a test. It is dignity. It is integrity. It is an education. When you cheat you squander all of these things and more.
Students and educators need to recognize the dangers of cheating and work together to create an honest and fruitful learning experience for all.